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William Crawford - Trooper

Household Battalion 2867
Died: 5th February 1918, Western Front

Household Battalion badge_edited.png

Each of the 29 stories on the Inverkip War Memorial is sad in its own right but this story is perhaps one of the most tragic discovered during the research.

William was born on the 13th August 1892 at 21 Dalrymple Street, Stranraer. He was the fifth of eight children of William, a labourer and Martha Hamilton who were married in Stranraer in April 1882. The eldest and youngest children sadly died in infancy.

In February 1901, when William was just 8 years old, his mother died from a post-partum haemorrhage. The 1901 census shows William snr, five sons and Agnes Kirkwood, a boarder, living at Greenvale Street, Stranraer.

Just eight weeks after his wife's death, William snr married Maggie Berry, 16 years his junior, who also lived at Greenvale Street, a few doors down at no.7.What happened to the children after this we can only imagine from the letter of John McDowall, William Jnr's Uncle.  The 1911 census shows he was living at Ferguson Place, Inverkip and working as a forester/roofer. William Snr. was living as a boarder at 2 Princes Street, Stranraer with Agnes Johnstone, her family and other boarders. His occupation was still a labourer.

William Jnr. enlisted for service in the Household Battalion in April 1917. He left Southampton for France in October of that year. He was reported as wounded on 29th January 1918 and died on 5th February at No.8 Casualty Clearing Station (even though he is listed as 8th February on the Inverkip War Memorial). William's Uncle died in December 1919. A few months after writing the heart-rending letter regarding his nephew's commemorative scroll and plaque.

William snr died in July 1930 at 45 Dalrymple Street. His death was registered by his brother, Peter Crawford. His wife, Trooper William Crawford's step-mother, died in August 1941 at 71 Hanover Street, Stranraer. In 1928, she had re-married.

What remains a mystery is why on Trooper William Crawford's commemorative certificate it says 'son of William Crawford, Market Street, Greenock' and the Uncle's letter in 1919 states he didn't know where he was. On a copy of the statement of next of kin for soldiers, 'unknown to me' is the contact details for his father and siblings.

Letters from Hettie Johnson, Trooper William Crawford's girlfriend, were found a few years ago. This was a very rare discovery as these would usually be returned to the serviceman's family. She writes: 'I always think about you and wish you were here....Goodnight dear Will and God bless you forever. May Him above guard over you and through all dangers and be with us both until we meet again.'

Trooper William Crawford, as it says on his headstone at Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun 'A son of Galloway. He gave for humanity that the race should be free.'

Click on related images below to expand

Trooper William Crawford CWGC Certificate-1
birth certificate
Hettie letter
Household Battalion badge
Household Battalion badge_edited
Trooper WC regimental conduct sheet
Trooper William Crawford enrolment
Trooper William Crawford grave registration
Trooper William Crawford headstone doc
Trooper William Crawford headstone
Trooper William Crawford Hettie letter Lives of the First World War
Trooper William Crawford medal card
Trooper William Crawford national archives letter ref
Trooper William Crawford Uncle John McDowall letter
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